Rampage Jackson evened the score with Wanderlei Silva at Bellator 206 on Saturday in San Jose, Calif.
This was the fourth meeting between the two titans of mixed martial arts. Silva had won the first two fights with emphatic knockouts under the Pride FC banner, while Jackson won their third encounter in the UFC Octagon just as emphatically, also by way of knockout.
That third bout took place in 2008. Fast forward 10 years and Jackson was able to repeat the feat in the Bellator cage.
Silva appeared to have a solid strategy from the opening bell, darting in and out on Jackson, establishing his jab, and using his movement to try and stay away from his opponent’s power. Jackson, however, showed an ever-improving boxing game, particularly with his movement and patience, as he didn’t fall into any of Silva’s traps, instead waiting for Silva to overcommit and then using his size advantage to put him on the fence.
Once there, Jackson used a near 30-pound advantage to wear Silva down and land some solid short uppercuts and knees to the body.
By the end of the opening frame, Silva was already breathing heavily, while Jackson appeared relaxed and rested.
Silva opened round two with an outside low kick, but he mounted little more offense as the round wore on.
Jackson turned up the pressure in the second frame, consistently pressing forward and punching Silva back to the fence. This time, Silva fought his way out, but it’s also when Jackson turned his game up another notch.
Silva tried to reinstitute his jab, but Jackson rocked him with a left-right punch combination and followed with a couple of knees to the body. Jackson again used his size to get back into the clinch, where he kept wearing Silva down and hurting him with the short uppercuts and knees to the body.
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Late in the round, Jackson opened Silva up with a solid jab and then landed a straight right that put the Brazilian on his butt on the canvas. Jackson unloaded with punch after punch on his downed foe until the referee had no choice but to stop the fight.
Jackson would later admit that a couple of Silva’s punches that got through had him seeing stars.
“He rocked me. My chin was tested tonight,” Jackson told Big John McCarthy. “I had a flashback from when he rocked me in Japan.”
Though there was a lot of trash talk leading up to their fourth meeting, Jackson showed an immense amount of respect to Silva following the fight, clasping hands and bowing his head.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I watched Wanderlei fight at UFC 20 before I even began fighting. I am definitely a fan.”
The bout was the 51st of each of their storied careers.